What Makes NeurOptimal Neurofeedback Special?

In this video, the inventor of the NeurOptimal neurofeedback system, Val Brown, discusses how and why NeurOptimal is so much different than classical neurofeedback approaches.

You can skip to 5:30 in the video, after the video technical difficulties are resolved...

Key Takeaways

  • 07:30 - Transitioned from a linear neurofeedback approach to non-linear.
    • Linear neurofeedback was designed around the idea of assessing somebody, i.e. you're having trouble focusing so lets get you to make more
      beta brainwaves.
    • Left to expert's judgement on how to treat but rarely did experts agree, i.e. different sensor site, different amounts of sensors, and different brainwave frequency targets. "We know what's wrong with you and we're going to fix it..."
    • Only looking at one little slice of the whole arena and arguing about treatment protocols for things like ADD, depression, addiction, etc.. And what do you do if someone has ADD and addiction, or if they're misdiagnosed?
    • "Specialization is the last refuge of the incompetent."
  • 15:30 - NeurOptimal is based on the work of Karl Pribram's holographic model of the brain. Prior to this, the more conventional theory was that information was stored in the brain similar to a computer.
    • It does not makes sense to think you're training one local spot on the brain unless you're actually altering the structure of the brain (i.e. surgery) or sending in energy to deviate it (i.e. tDCS - electrical stimulation).
    • The brain only has a certain amount of energy moment-to-moment in the brain - so if you increase one thing, like beta in one part of the
      brain, you're decreasing something somewhere else.
  • 18:30 - NeurOptimal is not a treatment but is an effective training that is working uniquely with each brain, millisecond to millisecond the whole time without requiring an expert to be involved and prescribing a protocol.
  • 23:00 - NeurOptimal is just giving information to the central nervous system about what it just did, and the central nervous system sorts itself out.
    • Just like when you first learned to walk, sit-up, crawl, etc. - nobody had to specifically teach you how to do that. The central nervous system is incredibly good at learning if you give it information.
    • There's no expert on the planet that is better positioned than the brain itself to make decisions on behalf of the brain.
  •  24:40 - How often to train?
    • As much as you want but more right away is not necessarily better - Similar to the man that goes to the Zen monastery and says, "If I work day and night, how long will it take?" The Zen master says, "20 years." The man says, "Well I won't even sleep or take any time off, so how long will it take then?" And the Zen master says, "40 years."
    • If you're trying too hard and doing too much, the body doesn't work that way - there's a natural rhythmicity to the body and to each individual person.
    • NeurOptimal tailors itself moment-to-moment to that ongoing dance that's going on for that individual person - so it's not one-size-fits-all - it's a comprehensive adaptive training based on what's happening moment-to-moment and nobody is telling the brain, "not to do that," or "you need to do that." It's actually, "here's what you're doing, is that what you want to do?"
    • Many people train once a week, some do two per week and others get to a place of once every other week.
    • After enough experience you get to a place of whenever you feel like you need it.